"A WONDERLAND FOR LOVERS OF BOOKS AND ANTIQUES"
Two special days this week:
Tuesday, June 14th: Flag Day, since way back in 1777 (officially established in 1916).
Thursday, June 16th: Bloomsday, ever since 1922, (officially established in 1954).
My maternal grandmother, Rovilla Heidemann Lindsey, died forty - five years ago today, on Flag Day in 1966. That year, like this year, June 14 fell on a Tuesday; and Grandma Lindsey's funeral service was held on Thursday, June 16.
Her husband, my maternal grandfather, Paul Jones Lindsey, died seventeen years later, on Saturday, June 11, almost to the day of my grandmother's death, but not quite. His funeral, however, was also held on the Thursday, June 16. For all those intervening 17 years, Grandpa kept the 1966 calendar hanging on the kitchen wall, turned to June. Every January, he would place the new one on top, but you could always see the 1966 calendar just underneath.
By the time 1983 rolled around, I had read James Joyce's Ulysses several times, studied it thoroughly, and worked as an intern on the James Joyce Quarterly. I was well aware of Bloomsday that summer and the literary significance of my grandparents' two funerals being held not only on the same day of the week and month as each other's, but also on the anniversary of Leopold Bloom's legendary day in Dublin ~ Thursday, June 16, 1904 ~ when he too attended a funeral ceremony. The uncanny coincidence was not lost on me.
I sent a letter to my undergraduate Joyce professor, Jim Barnes, telling him of my grandfather's Bloomsday funeral service and sharing with him the remarkable symmetry of my grandmother's funeral taking place seventeen years earlier, also on Thursday, June 16, way before I knew anything about Bloomsday. I was honored when he wrote back to let me know that he read my note aloud to his Joyce students that summer, as an example of how life can echo art. [My previous posts on Professor & Poet Jim Barnes include: Missouri Poets, Quinton Duval, Tomatoes & Gravy]
I guess that's why I can never let Bloomsday slip by unnoticed, especially when it falls, as it does this year, on a Thursday, something which happens at repeating intervals of every 6 - 11 - 6 - 5 / 6 -11 - 6 - 5 years. If you get a kick (as I do!) out of the Perpetual Calendar, you can easily figure out that the next time June 16 will fall on a Thursday is 2016 (then add 6, 11, 6, 5, and so forth, in order to identify the years to come).
Googling "Bloomsday" has led me to another Quotidian blogger (no! I didn't steal my name from him). Interestingly, he maintains that June 16 can really only be considered Bloomsday when it falls on a Thursday, i.e., every 6, 11, 6, 5 years or so! Calendrically, this idea appeals to me, though it seems a shame to pass up a yearly opportunity to visit the nearest Irish pub -- or perhaps the Rosenbach Museum & Library, if you happen to be in Philadelphia -- in celebration of the life and times and peregrinations of Leopold Bloom.
#2008 & #2010 Delancey Street, Philadelphia
Some Quotations for Bloomsday, by Joyce and others,
in honor of wandering the streets of Dublin, or wherever:
It is the epic of two races (Israel-Ireland) and at the same time the cycle of the human body as well as a little story of a day (life)... It is also a kind of encyclopaedia. My intention is not only to render the myth sub specie temporis nostri but also to allow each adventure (that is, every hour, every organ, every art being interconnected and interrelated in the somatic scheme of the whole) to condition and even to create its own technique.
James Joyce (Irish novelist, 1882-1941)
Letters, 21st September 1920
"Think you're escaping and run into yourself.
Longest way round is the shortest way home."
James Joyce, from Ulysses, Chapter 13
"Who is it that can tell me who I am?"
William Shakespeare, from King Lear
"And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive
where we started and know the place for the first time."
T. S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"
"Happy Bloomsday, citizens, phenomenologists, throwaways, foreigners, gentlemen of the press, evermoving wanderers, weavers and unweavers, pedestrians in brown macintoshes, Wandering Soap, sailors crutching around corners, no-one, everyone! Hoping you're well and not in hell!"
Kathleen O'Gorman, my friend and fellow Modernist
P.S. Is reading Ulysses still on your "to do" list?
Well, for a few milliseconds of entertainment, you can
enjoy this minimalist version: it will quickly bring you
up to speed, or serve as a quick review if it's been awhile:
Ulysses for Dummies
P.P.S. End of June 2012: my mother has written to let me know that her first cousin Mildred (my grandmother's niece) died earlier this month, on June 14th & the funeral was held on June 16th.
P.P.P.S. Bloomsday 2015: thanks to Michael Lipsey for this amazing photograph: "Happy Bloomsday! The inside cover of my dad’s copy of Ulysses, which he read and reread for over 70 years. The last two were from tapes, as his eyesight was failing. Between the third and fourth he notes that I read Ulysses in 1967 — quite a bit of it on a long camping trip in the Smokey Mountains."
see also his notes below in "Comments":
SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS FOR MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading